11 Smartest Cat Breeds (With Pictures)

Collage of Smartest Cat Breeds

Cats showcase remarkable intelligence, albeit in a way that’s different from other animals. Intelligence is often species-specific, with each creature excelling in areas suited to their survival and ecological roles.

Domestic cats showcase their cleverness daily, whether it’s by responding to the sound of a treat bag or maintaining their composure on a trip to the vet, revealing their true wit.

How Intelligent Are Cats?

Cats might not always make it to the top of intelligence charts when ranked against other animals, but that’s because intelligence isn’t one-size-fits-all. Just as every animal excels in their habitat, cats too shine in their ways.

Predatory instincts for hunting small creatures and forming social bonds with fellow felines or humans are where cats’ smartness really shows. They have developed distinct cognitive skills suited perfectly for their lifestyle—skills we’re about to delve into and appreciate.

But you might ask: how do we measure a cat’s intelligence? And which breeds truly top the list as the smartest cat breeds?

What Is Animal Intelligence?

Animal intelligence encompasses mental processes, learning, problem-solving, and emotional states. When examining animal intelligence, scientists delve into the realm of animal cognition.

This involves understanding how animals perceive their environment, store and recall information, and make conscious choices—a fascinating journey into their inner workings.

One iconic approach to exploring this concept is the mirror test, designed to assess an animal’s self-awareness. It’s a sophisticated mental feat, often linked to more complex cognitive functions. While human infants develop this skill at around 18 months, a select few non-human species have also passed the mirror test, showcasing their cognitive prowess.

These animals include some of nature’s most fascinating creatures: elephants, dolphins, great apes like bonobos, chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas, along with orcas, European magpies, and certain ant species.

Interestingly, domestic cats don’t make the list; But it doesn’t mean cats are not smart. Standard cognition tests like the mirror test may not always be able to measure cats’ particular brand of intelligence. Their intelligence shines in their exceptional hunting abilities, keen senses, and problem-solving skills that aid in their survival and interaction with the environment.

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How do we measure a cat’s intelligence?

Assessing a cat’s intelligence involves various cognitive tests tailored to their unique behaviors and instincts. Scientists engage cats in problem-solving exercises, such as navigating mazes or solving puzzles that reward with treats. These tests assess a cat’s learning ability, memory, and adaptability to new situations.

Understanding object permanence is gauged by hiding toys or food and observing if the cat knows the item still exists even when out of sight. Sensory tests examine their response to auditory and visual cues, shedding light on their perception and environmental awareness.

Social intelligence tests look at how cats interact with humans and other animals, evaluating their ability to comprehend and use human gestures, gaze, and emotional states for information. Reaction to familiar versus unfamiliar voices further helps in determining their voice recognition capabilities.

Quantifying intelligence in cats also takes into account their inherent curiosity, trainability, and ability to communicate needs, all of which contribute to our understanding of their cognitive abilities. These measures, when combined, give us a clearer picture of the depth and nuances of cat intelligence.

1. Abyssinian

Abyssinian breed sitting near window looking at its toys in the living room

The Abyssinian cat, often fondly referred to as “Aby,” is renowned for its striking intelligence. These agile felines are naturally curious, making them quick learners who love to explore their surroundings.

Their keen interest in everything around them means they’re always on the lookout for something new to investigate, which can often lead to mischievous behavior.

The Aby’s smart and inquisitive nature lends itself to engaging play, and they excel at interactive games, such as fetch or puzzle toys, that stimulate their mental faculties.

Many Abyssinian cats can easily be trained to respond to commands or even perform tricks, showcasing their sharp minds and adaptability. Their alertness and problem-solving skills are just some of the traits that make the Abyssinian one of the smartest cat breeds.

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2. Balinese

Balinese cat laying down looking at its toys in the living room

Elegance meets intellect with the stunning Balinese cat, boasting a majestic, flowing coat. This breed is the perfect blend of affectionate companionship and playful mischief. Devoted and fond of human interaction, the Balinese is often referred to as a “Velcro Cat” due to its desire to stay by your side.

Balinese are known for their ability to communicate their needs and desires effectively, often developing a rich vocabulary of vocalizations to interact with their human companions. Whether it’s engaging in interactive play or supervising your daily tasks from a cozy perch, this cat ensures a lively and loving presence in your home.

3. Bengal

Bengal Cat Breed Standing Full Body Looking At The Camera

Bengal cats are renowned for their exceptional intelligence, setting them apart in the feline world. Their intelligence often surprises and delights owners as they demonstrate problem-solving abilities and a remarkable capacity to learn.

These cats possess a keen curiosity, exploring their environments with a purposeful and investigative nature. Bengal cats are quick learners, easily picking up tricks and commands, showcasing their adaptability and agility.

Their intelligence extends beyond mere obedience, as they engage in interactive play, responding to challenges and stimuli with enthusiasm.

Providing mental stimulation through puzzle toys or training sessions not only entertains the cat but also helps prevent boredom. This ensures a contented and intellectually engaged Bengal cat.

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4. Burmese

Burmese kitten laying on the floor

The Burmese breed stands out in our list of smartest cat breeds. This is for their exceptional intelligence, often likened to that of dogs, due to their impressive ability to master tricks and understand commands.

These cats are keen participants in their human’s daily routines. They exhibit an intense curiosity that drives them to explore and adeptly adapt to new environments.

Not only are they smart, but Burmese cats also display remarkable emotional intelligence. They are attuned to their owner’s feelings, providing comfort and companionship that goes beyond the typical feline demeanor.

Their clever, observant nature combined with their engaging social skills make the Burmese cat an enchanting and intuitive furry friend. With a Burmese around, expect a harmonious blend of affectionate interactions and clever antics that will surely brighten up your home.

5. Scottish Fold

Beautiful Scottish fold cat laying

The Scottish Fold is an adorable and intelligent cat breed, known for its unique folded ears that give it an owl-like appearance. Don’t let their charming looks fool you; these cats are as bright as they are cute.

Scottish Folds are incredibly perceptive and capable of adapting to their environment and routine with ease. They enjoy interactive play and can master a variety of games and toys, which not only demonstrate their intelligence but also provide mental stimulation.

These cats often display a calm and collected demeanor, observing and learning from the world around them. They excel in recognizing their names and responding to commands, showcasing their attentive and sharp nature.

6. Siamese

Siamese Breed Sitting Looking At The Camera

The Siamese breed is an embodiment of beauty and brains, well-known for its striking blue eyes and sleek, creamy coat accented with darker points. Their intelligence shines through their natural curiosity and eagerness to be involved in their owner’s activities.

Siamese are social creatures that thrive on interaction, and this trait goes hand-in-hand with their notable problem-solving abilities. They’re quick to learn and respond to their names, and can even be taught to perform tricks, much like a dog.

These talkative felines communicate with a distinctive vocal range which makes them one of the smartest cat breeds. They form strong, loyal connections to their human companions, often becoming deeply attached to one person in particular.

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7. Singapura

Singapura breed about to play with toy

The Singapura is often cited as the smallest of all cat breeds, but they are also one of the smartest cat breeds. They possess a surprising level of intelligence packed into their petite frame. These little cats are known for their big personalities and active minds.

They’re quick to learn and engage enthusiastically with puzzles and interactive toys, demonstrating their problem-solving skills.

Despite their small size, they have a large presence due to their clever and affectionate nature, often seeking out the company of their humans and insisting on being part of the action.

Singapuras have a knack for understanding household dynamics and will make themselves a charming and intelligent center of attention. Their sociability and smart, inquisitive behavior make them endearing companions who connect deeply with their families.

8. Cornish Rex

curly fur Cornish rex pet

The Cornish Rex is another standout when it comes to smartest cat breeds. These slender cats with their distinct curly coats are not only stylish but also sharp and quick to learn. The Cornish Rex is known for its playful antics, showing a remarkable ability to engage in interactive play that involves problem-solving and agility.

This breed thrives on challenges and mental stimulation, so don’t be surprised if you find them masterfully pawing at puzzle toys or effectively responding to clicker training.

Their alert and curious nature means that they are always on the lookout for something interesting to do, making them delightful companions who are as smart as they are spirited.

The Cornish Rex’s intelligence is complemented by an affectionate personality, ensuring they bond closely with their families while keeping everyone entertained with their clever capers.

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9. Havana Brown

Havana brown cat laying outside on the concrete

The Havana Brown cat, with its distinctive chocolate-brown coat and enchanting green eyes, is a true testament to feline intelligence. These cats are known for their problem-solving skills and their remarkable ability to interact with their human companions.

With an innate curiosity, the Havana Brown approaches life with a keen interest in understanding their environment, which often leads to intelligent behaviors like opening doors or figuring out hidden toy mechanisms.

Not only are they quick learners who enjoy interactive games, but they’re also known for their deep communication skills, using a range of vocalizations to express their needs and thoughts. Havana Browns form strong bonds with their owners.

10. Korat

Purebred Korat dark silver coat

The Korat cat is a silver-blue beauty that exudes intelligence in every aspect of its behavior. Originating from Thailand, this breed is revered for both its striking appearance and sharp mind. Korats are quick learners who thrive on interactive play that stimulates their mental faculties.

They show an impressive ability to remember where their favorite toys are hidden and may even master simple tricks or commands. Their smartness goes beyond play; they are sensitive to the moods of their human companions, often acting as emotional barometers within the home.

They’re known to form strong, loyal bonds with their families, and their intuitive nature allows them to offer comfort when it’s most needed. The combination of their heartwarming loyalty, perceptive disposition, and mental agility makes the Korat a treasured pet.

11. Savannah

Savannah Breed Standing Side Body Looking At Camera

The Savannah cat, with its exotic appearance reminiscent of its wild ancestors, is not only remarkable in looks but also in intelligence. This breed is known for its impressive level of smartness, often demonstrating a keen interest in interactive games and puzzle toys that challenge their mental abilities.

Savannah cats are famous for their high energy and inquisitive nature; don’t be surprised if they figure out how to open doors or engage with complex toys. They are also adept at learning tricks and commands, which is a testament to their high intelligence and trainable nature.

The Savannah’s sociable attitude means they can bond well with their human. Their ability to understand and respond to cues makes them responsive and communicative companions. This blend of intelligence, athleticism, and loyalty makes them a purr-fect pet.

How Do I Test My Cat’s Intelligence?

Testing your cat’s intelligence can be a fun and engaging way to bond with your pet while learning more about their cognitive abilities. Who knows maybe your cat is also one of the smartest cat breeds.

Here’s how you can conduct some simple tests at home to assess your cat’s cleverness:

  1. Problem-Solving Skills with Puzzle Feeders: Puzzle feeders are a great way to evaluate your cat’s problem-solving prowess. These feeders require your cat to manipulate them in a certain way to get to the food. Observing how quickly your cat learns to use the puzzle can give you an idea of their problem-solving abilities.
  2. Object Permanence Test: Hide a toy under a piece of fabric or a box while your cat is watching, and see if they search for it. Cats with a good understanding of object permanence will know the toy still exists and will try to find it.
  3. The Pointing Test: Point to a spot on the ground or to a treat on the floor to see if your cat will follow your gesture to explore that location. Cats that comprehend human gestures may indicate higher social intelligence.
  4. The Cup Test: Place a treat under one of three cups, shuffle them around, and see if your cat can follow the cup with the treat. This test checks for visual tracking and memory.
  5. Maze Test: Create a simple maze with cardboard boxes and place their favorite treat or toy at the end. See how quickly your cat can navigate the maze, showcasing their spatial awareness and problem-solving skills.
  6. Sensitivity to Human Cues: Try showing your cat different emotional cues, like happiness or sadness, and see how they react. Cats that are sensitive to their owner’s emotions can display a form of emotional intelligence.
  7. The Name Test: Call your cat by name from another room to see if they come to you, indicating they recognize their name and associate it with you.
  8. Social Learning Test: Perform a new task, like opening a door or drawer, in front of your cat several times to see if they attempt to replicate the action, which would demonstrate an understanding through observational learning.
Collage of Smartest Cat Breeds


Remember that intelligence can manifest in different forms, and not all cats will respond to these tests in the same way. Some cats may be more food-motivated, while others may be driven by curiosity or the desire for social interaction.

Your cat’s response to these tests could be influenced by their personality, past experiences, and even their mood on the day of the test.

Always ensure that these tests are performed in a safe, non-stressful environment for your cat, and use positive reinforcement like treats and affection to keep the experience enjoyable for your furry friend.

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